Just like we get those DVD collections of old 80s VHS horror movies, it’s about time that obscure flix from the 90s VHS days start getting slapped together at a reasonable price. “The Gnarly 90s Nostalgia Collection” would be a great title for a 3-on-1 featuring the trio of Arcade, The Runestone, and Demon Wind.
Back when the concept of virtual reality video games was blowing our minds, along came Arcade, which features not only a young Seth Green, but also an older Peter “Ralphie” Billingsley of A Christmas Story as the leading man!
A bunch of teens is drawn to a promotion at an arcade for a virtual reality game called…ARCADE! And let’s just say a virtual reality video game in this movie looks less real than a non-virtual reality video game of today.
Arcade is actually the demonic voiced enemy in the game, and the teens soon discover that those who dare challenge him and lose are eternally trapped inside it. So Ralphie and our leading girl, who’s struggling with her mother’s suicide, go into the game to save their friends. About the most exciting thing they confront is a flying skeleton bird…on a green screen. Don’t expect anything scary or uber thrilling here if you’re over the age of twelve.
As 90s bad as it is, Arcade is one of those movies 90s kids would have watched dozens of times on cable or video. And for the most part, it’s a sterile PG film. But then, all of a sudden near the finale, Ralphie says “fudge!” Only he didn’t say fudge…. Once he has said the word, the big one, the queen mother of dirty words, the “F-dash-dash-dash” word, several more curses follow, including evil Arcade calling the main girl a bitch! This sudden barrage of expletives is so out of place…but finally got the movie to grab my NC-17 attention.
And as an adult, you don’t need virtual reality glasses to see that evil Arcade is totally going to pull the virtual reality suicidal mom card on our main girl, once again taking this film way out of pre-teen territory. But in the end, it’s back to Nintendo world as a “free life” saves the day. Or does it? Cue evil Arcade’s demonic laughter.
THE RUNESTONE (1991)
The Runestone is actually a good early 90s creature feature bogged down by annoying Norse legend backstory. Ugh. Why ruin a horror movie with a complex storyline?
There’s a big stone found at an excavation site. It’s brought to the city. There’s a bunch of characters I didn’t care about doing things I didn’t care about. There are dream within dream within dream sequences. Pretty much everything about this mess of a movie is ridiculous except for the ridiculous creature.
The first cool scene (of many) teasing his presence is stolen right from the initial attack in Creepshow’s “The Crate.” We get to see the cute male lead shirtless a few times. There are numerous “artsy” shots (storyline and art? It’s a fucking creature feature!), and finally, the awesome creature—which looks like a cross between a Bigfoot and werewolf rubber suit—gets most of the screen time. The segments of him terrorizing everyone remind me of the gothic look and feel of The Unnamable and pretty much save the entire movie for me.
But then, to ruin the movie even further, a Nordic god of war comes to save the day. It’s bad, complete with a final “one-liner” by the hero.
DEMON WIND (1990)
Demon Wind seems to be the result of someone watching Demons, Demons 2, and Night of the Demons then deciding to make a demon movie because demons are so cool. And it definitely gets major points for its numerous icky, oozing demons, its cute guys, its eerie atmosphere, and its spooky soundtrack. What holds it back from being a demon classic is everything else.
This guy named Cory drags his friends to an old family home to find out what really happened to his dead dad. A crazy old man warns them away from the place. Cory keeps having trippy horror dreams. The hot blond dude’s favorite words are “homo” and “faggot.” The friends get to the house and almost immediately read some Latin shit out loud. There’s a crucified skeleton, little ghost girls, a creepy doll, and a man-eating devil altar. There are even awful laser/electric special effects signifying the spell Cory’s grandma once cast to protect the house from demons. And there are what feel like endless faux endings before it’s finally over.
Demon Wind is all about being patient and waiting for the next onslaught of gruesome demons. They make this one worth the watch, although it lacks any jump scares. You’ll have to stick with the king of all jump scare demon movies for that: Night of the Demons!